Our memories and expectations of holidays are so closely entwined with food that it’s impossible to separate them. Thanksgiving of course, for me was always full of good Southern food, much of which my Grandma Faye made, like her baked apples, potato salad, and the pièce de résistance of Southern side dishes: the sweet potato casserole.
After I moved to New Hampshire and experienced my first few sweet potato-less Thanksgivings (replaced instead by the boiled, unseasoned, vat of pureed squash), I vowed to find the perfect recipe of my memories and never go without again. Turns out, it was the easiest and most basic recipe ever. A few years ago, it ran in the Greensboro News & Record as “Mom’s Secret Sweet Potato Casserole” (as I’m sure this recipe has been printed in every regional newspaper for decades). The stained newspaper clipping resided on my refrigerator for a couple of years before I finally safely sealed it behind the plastic pages of my collected recipe book. Recently, it popped up in my Facebook feed as “Ruth’s Chris Sweet Potato Casserole”. Same recipe. So you see, it comes in different names and from different sources, but this is the tried and true recipe that you can’t go wrong with.
Mom’s Secret Sweet Potato Casserole
Sweet Potato Mixture
3 cups cooked, mashed sweet potatoes
1/3 cup butter
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup milk
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup flour
1 cup chopped pecans (PECANS. not walnuts.)
1/3 cup butter, melted
Sweet potato mixture: Mix all ingredients and pour into a baking dish. Then, mix first 3 ingredients of the topping in a small bowl, and then stir in the melted butter. Sprinkle over the potatoes. Bake at 375 degrees until brown & bubbly, about 25 minutes. Cool at least 30 minutes (it takes forever to cool down), and serve warm.
These adorable little Dynaware Pyr-o-Rey casserole dishes are almost individual-sized, and perfect for a warm & bubbly baked comfort food. I picked them up at one of the Goodwill stores that I visit almost weekly, and I think they were maybe $1.99 or $2.99 each. Can’t beat it!